The Simon Communities in Ireland have today warned that the latest figures from the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) Quarterly Rent Index means that vulnerable people and families are being forced into homelessness daily and many people are stuck in emergency accommodation for far too long because of rising rent, housing shortages and inadequate rent supplement payments. They simply have no other option. The figures released and compiled by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) for the PRTB show an increase of 5.8% in rents nationally over the course of 2014, this follows a 3% increase in 2013. Rent for houses was up by b up 4.8% and apartment rents were up by up 6.4%.
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities said that details from today’s rent index report are extremely worrying.
"It’s clear that there is a substantial gap between rent supplement and Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) caps and the actual rents being sought. This gap makes it virtually impossible for most of the people we work with to access private rented housing; it is preventing them from moving out of homelessness. People who are homeless or on the very edge of homelessness currently have no hope of accessing the housing they need. This results in people on the single persons supplement competing with couples for the same small number of properties and they are immediately at a disadvantage due to their single status. This is compounded by the fact that the number of one bedroom housing units is extremely limited yet we know 44% of those on the social housing waiting list are single[i]. The pressure on this aspect of the market is seen with rents for apartments increasing by 6.4%. Vulnerable people and families are being pushed over the edge into homelessness and at the same time people are being prevented from leaving homelessness. It is inevitable that already stretched and overflowing homeless services will see even more people knocking on their doors.”
“The severe shortage of social housing is adding further to the problem. We need to prevent more people from becoming homeless, especially those currently losing their rented homes due to these inadequate rent supplement caps and we need to ensure that people can move out of homelessness too. It’s clear that rent supplement and HAP limits are just two low and must be raised as a matter of urgency. Protection for tenants in the Private Rented Sector is poor and tenants are very vulnerable. Recognising this, we must make the changes necessary to offer greater rent certainty and increased security of tenure to those renting their homes. It is heartening to hear Minister Alan Kelly’s speech at the recent Labour Party conference where he spoke about plans to offer greater rent certainty, these plans must be expedited as those who are vulnerable and at risk of homelessness cannot wait any longer.”
“This latest PRTB report showing that the cost of renting is continuing to rise nationally is of grave concern to us and to the people we support across the country. Annual growth in the capital has seen rents rise by 9.6% with house rents up by 7% and apartments higher again and up by 10.9%. Rent prices are rising outside of Dublin too with a 3.9% increase so it is critical that this is not just seen as a Dublin only problem. These figures, when taken into account alongside recent figures from the Daft.ie Rental Report paint a very bleak picture about what is happening around the country. Rents are continuing to rise and the number of properties available to rent have reduced significantly, and are now at the lowest levels of availability nationwide since May 2007.
Daft.ie reported that that on Feb 1st there were just 550 properties available to rent across Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford. This is a frighteningly low number of properties.”
“This housing and homeless crisis is impacting people all across Ireland - young people, families and children, older people, people with severe health problems, people battling drug and alcohol issues, people this state has failed from a young age, people in urban and rural areas. We welcome the investment in social housing announced as part of Budget 2015 and the Social Housing Strategy 2020, however this will only meet the housing needs of less than 17% of the 90,000 currently on the housing list. This is further compounded by the fact that there are more than 37,000 mortgages in arrears for two years or more and the fact that Irish house prices are predicted to rise at the fastest rate in Europe this year, the need to address the chronic housing crisis has never been as urgent as it is now. Any solution to this housing shortage must involve all aspects of the housing market - the private rented sector, home ownership and social housing. It must be all encompassing.”
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities said that improving access to affordable housing must be addressed now if the Government are serious about their commitment to end homelessness by 2016.
“We welcome recent progress especially, in response to the homelessness emergency – and we support developments to try to ensure that no one is sleeping on our streets at night and Ministerial direction for Housing Authorities in relation to housing allocations. However, the extra beds allocated in December are mostly full. We must ensure greater numbers of people do not end up trapped long-term in emergency accommodation where there are currently 3,000 people, almost 870 children each night. The emergency accommodation measures announced in the 20 Point Action Plan in December must only be used in the short-term and now these emergency beds must be replaced by an offer of housing and not a return to the streets.”
“The Government has committed to ending long term homelessness and rough sleeping by 2016, using a housing first approach. A housing first or housing-led approach supports people to move out of homelessness as quickly as possible and into permanent housing with tailored support services. We know from experience that it works. It is essential that the Government does not lose sight of this goal and they ensure that people who are homeless have access to long-term homes with the right support. The biggest challenge right now is access to appropriate, affordable housing and, unless urgently addressed, more people will suffer, more people will end up homeless and the Government will fail to achieve their 2016 target.”
The Simon Communities deliver support and service to over 6,000 people and families who experience - or are at risk of - homelessness on an annual basis.
A full copy of the PRTB’s Quarterly Rent Index, compiled by the ESRI is available here
A full copy of the daft.ie Q4 Rental Index is available here
The homelessness and housing crisis - the numbers
· At the end of last year there were almost 3,000 people nationally in emergency accommodation, including 870 children. 36% of those were outside the capital.
· There was a 20% increase in the number of people sleeping rough in Dublin (168 people) in November 2014 which is the highest since the count began in 2007. Unfortunately, Dublin is the only area where an official rough sleeper count takes place, making it difficult to get a countrywide rough sleeping picture.
· In December 2014, the Simon Communities reported a 41% increase in the numbers of individuals and families around the country turning to our services for help over a two year period.
- There are currently 90,000 people on the social housing waiting list.
- Social housing output in 2015 will be 15,000 units which will meet the needs of less than 17% of those on the social housing waiting list.
- According to Standard and Poors (Feb 2015) Irish house prices are set to rise this year by approx. 9% - the fastest rate in Europe.
- 37, 000 households are in mortgage arrears of 2 years or more.
For media queries and interview requests
Roisin McCarthy, Simon Communities of Ireland
Tel: 01 472 72 04/ 085 806 5141
About Simon Communities
The Simon Communities in Ireland are a network of eight regionally based independent Simon Communities based in Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, the Midlands, the Mid West, the North West and the South East that share common values and ethos in tackling all forms of homelessness throughout Ireland, supported by a National Office. The Simon Communities have been providing services in Ireland for over 40 years. The Simon Communities deliver support and service to over 6,000 individuals and families throughout Ireland who experience – or are at risk of – homelessness every year.
Whatever the issue, for as long as we are needed, Simon’s door is always open. For more information please log on to www.simon.ie.
Services range from
* Housing provision, tenancy sustainment & settlement services, housing advice & information services helping people to make the move out of homelessness & working with households at risk;
* Specialist health & treatment services addressing some of the issues which may have contributed to homeless occurring or may be a consequence;
* Emergency accommodation & support providing people with a place of welcome, warmth & safety;
* Soup runs & rough sleeper teams who are often the first point of contact for people sleeping rough.